Legislation would prevent debt collectors from seizing stimulus checks from vulnerable families

Originally published in The Legislative Gazette

Photo courtesy of New York State Senate Media Services Sen. Kevin Thomas, sponsor of a bill exempting COVID-19 stimulus relief for individuals and families with children from money judgments, speaks in the Senate Chamber on March 3, 2021.

The Senate recently passed legislation (S.5923-a) sponsored by Senator Kevin Thomas, that would prevent the revocation of federal COVID-19 stimulus checks for individuals and families with children to satisfy money judgments. 

Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein sponsors the Assembly version of this bill, A.06617  which passed the Assembly on April 19. Currently, specific funding such as Social Security, Social Security disability, public assistance and more are considered exempt from money judgments.

The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act of 2020, Consolidated Appropriations Act 2021, and American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 provided financial assistance to families with children to help cushion the unprecedented time of the pandemic, which has disproportionately affected communities of color.

“Federal relief payments were intended as a lifeline to help families that are struggling to make ends meet during these exceptionally challenging times,” Thomas said. “Allowing these funds to be seized by debt collectors deprives families of the ability to provide for their children and cover immediate bills like rent, food, and utilities. This legislation ensures families are able to use this safety-net funding as it was originally intended.”

Read more at the Legislative Gazette.